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Need To Overcome Logistical Issues so That Precious Lives Are Not Lost Due to Deficiencies in Oxygen Supply: Bombay High Court

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This Public Interest Litigation was filed after 40 Covid related casualties were reported at the Goa Medical College. Out of these, around 15 took place between 2.00 a.m. and 6.00 a.m. These casualties arose due to logistical issues and problems with the oxygen supply.

Arguments before the Court

In response to the number of deaths that took place the other night, the Learned Advocate-General and the Health Secretary stated that there is no dearth of oxygen. Due to some logistical issues involved while manoeuvring the tractor, which carries the trolleys of oxygen and connecting the cylinders, there were some interruptions. This caused a fall of pressure in the supply lines of oxygen to the patients. They submitted that as the number of Covid victims rose, the Central Government has increased the quota for Goa. They assured the Court that they are continuously following up on matters with the Central Government to receive the quota for oxygen supply as soon as possible. The learned counsel for M/s. Scoop Industries Pvt. Ltd, which supplies oxygen to the Goa Medical College, stated that their technician would attend the College and see that the two Dura Cylinders are made operational. He submitted that the oxygen supply position would be maintained without compromising the oxygen supply position to other hospitals and facilities. The Nodal Officer submitted that there is no severe issue with oxygen flow meters. Nevertheless, steps are being taken to augment the flow meters. He submitted that in genuine cases, arrangements would be made to issue the necessary NOCs so that there is no difficulty in filling the cylinders. 

Court’s Observation

The Court looked into the statements made by the Health Secretary

The Dura Cylinders will be installed and made operational at the Goa Medical College the same day.  It would also be ensured that expert drivers will drive and manoeuvre the tractors for transportation of trolleys from the plant at Corlim to the Goa Medical College.  Almost 323 oxygen concentrators are being flown into the State and will be available for use by the same day. The oxygen supply position as of 12.05.2021 would also continue on 13.05.2021 and for the next few days. He stated that efforts would be made to augment this supply position as well. Steps were being taken to install a tank for oxygen storage at the Goa Medical College itself, which would be completed by 17.05.2021. As the tank was originally used for Nitrogen storage, it will have to undergo some process before it can be used to store oxygen.

Court’s Judgement

The Court directed the Central Government to ensure that the allotted quota is being met. The Court also directed the State Administration to take all steps necessary by 17.05.2021 and that the Health Secretary will have to file a status report by 14.05.2021. If the Court is not satisfied with the status report, further proceedings were to be held on 15.05.2021. Otherwise, it will be held on 17.05.2021.

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